ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Edward/Kolety-Wakool Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Program

This Edward-Wakool MER Plan (2019 to 2022) is an extension of the monitoring and evaluation that was undertaken in the Edward-Wakool system for the Long-Term Intervention Monitoring (LTIM) project (2014-2019). In order to protect the integrity of the long-term dataset that was developed under the earlier program, most of the methods used in the new MER program are a direct continuation of those used previously.

This new MER program will take an ecosystem approach to evaluate the responses to Commonwealth environmental watering. The plan has a strong focus on fish (including movement, reproduction, recruitment and adult populations) and water quality. The Edward-Wakool system is recognised as a priority area for fish diversity in the Murray-Darling Basin, including threatened and endangered fish, and it is part of the ‘aquatic ecological community in the natural drainage system of the lower Murray River catchment’ in New South Wales (NSW Fisheries Management Act 1994).

Outcomes for fish and water quality have been the main focus of environmental watering actions in the Edward-Wakool system since 2010. Some of the other indicators (e.g. stream metabolism and aquatic vegetation) strongly influence the health of the ecosystem, and thus a key goal of the MER Plan is to improve our understanding and interpretation of these interdependencies Ecosystem responses to Commonwealth environmental water will be evaluated in two ways:

  1. Indicators that respond quickly to flow (e.g. hydrology, water quality and carbon, stream metabolism) will be evaluated for their responses to specific watering actions. These indicators will be evaluated with respect to the discharge data with and without the environmental water.
  2. Indicators that respond over longer time frames (e.g. riverbank and aquatic vegetation, fish recruitment, fish populations) will be evaluated for their response to the longer-term environmental watering regimes. This will be undertaken by comparing responses over multiple years in reaches that have received environmental water compared to zones that have received none or minimal environmental water.